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Posted at: Aug 23, 2019, 7:36 AM; last updated: Aug 23, 2019, 7:36 AM (IST)

VC walks out, commotion at Senate meet

VC walks out, commotion at Senate meet
Protesting student parties raise slogans against the VC in front of his house at Panjab University in Chandigarh on Thursday. Photo: NITIN MITTAL

Amarjot Kaur
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, August 22

A large section of pretty much a full house at the Senate meeting in Panjab University today was bitter over Vice-Chancellor Prof Raj Kumar’s “anti-democratic” and “obstinate” disposition as he announced the decisions on several issues mentioned in the agenda without considering the majority opinion.

Consequently, Prof Raj Kumar walked off from the Senate on two occasions when tempers soared and ended the meeting unceremoniously, without delivering a vote of thanks and having the National Anthem played to quell the Senators’ voice of dissent.

Ad issue withdrawn

Prof Kumar brought to the Senate agenda the controversial issue of an advertisement issued by the PU for 26 posts of assistant professors. However, it was withdrawn at the last minute. When asked for a rational reason for revoking the issue by Ashok Goyal, Prof Kumar refused to comment. Several Syndics and fellows, including Prof Ajay Ranga, had earlier claimed that the advertisement was a violation of the MHRD reservation (for SC/ST) policy. It was maintained that the posts advertised weren’t the same ones for which the university was given a clearance by the MHRD on January 8 last year. Taking stock of the procedural and policy-related glitches, the Syndicate, on July 30, had unanimously recommended the PU authority concerned to scrap the ad and publish a new one instead. The agenda reads: “Resolved that the selection process of 26 assistant professors be withheld and whole procedure be completed within two months. No action on this advertisement be taken without the approval of the Syndicate maximum within two months.”

Extension issue

Out of the total 10 issues, the two that sparked commotion were those regarding the extension in the term of appointment of NSS Coordinator Navdeep Sharma and the extension in the term of appointment of Dean Student Welfare (DSW) (men) Emanuel Nahar, DSW (women) Neena Caplash and Associate Dean Student Welfare Prof Ranjan Kumar. The house stood divided between the majority “anti-BJP” group and the 20-odd members who supported the ruling party. While most Senators alleged that Prof Kumar belonged to the right-wing, they rued his bias for the BJP supporters, “who were against DSWs and Assistant DSWs so they could rig the student elections.”

Fellow Ashok Goyal said: “As per the Syndicate proceedings, the VC did not recommend any name for the DSW jointly with the Syndicate which is required under the PU Act, and brought the matter to the Senate instead. There’s a technical glitch here.” Also, Senator DPS Randhawa said, “Changing the DSW only 15 days before the elections can prove to be disastrous because that person appointed may not have the skill and experience to deal with student issues.”

The VC, against the general opinion, resolved that “since there was no consensus, for the DSWs’ and Asst DSW’s extension, the issue has not been approved. Till the regular appointment of DSWs and Asst DSW, the VC will make necessary arrangement to look into the functioning of the offices of DSWs and Asst DSW”.

In case of Neena Sharma, who was to get a one-year extension after three years of service, as mentioned in her contract, the VC resolved that Sharma will continue and a legal opinion will be sought with regard to her extension.

In fact, out of 10 agenda items, one of which was withdrawn, only seven could be discussed and three, including promotion cases under CAS, Dr Sanjay’s retirement and Dr Shantnu’s resignation were passed. With cacophony and commotion, four issues, including assignment of faculties to Dr Paramjit Singh, PU’s former VC’s sexual harassment complaint, promotion of teachers at PU’s Dental College and rules and regulations of PhD/MPhil degree as per UGC regulations were not discussed.

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